AN: Yes I know this one's late too. Sorry. I was on vacation and couldn't find time to write. Now I'm back and writing. So here it is. Enjoy!
Harry paced the tent. He could hear the roar of the crowd outside as they watched Cedric defeat his dragon. Euryale hissed calming words to Harry but he wasn't really paying any attention. He was too busy going over in his head the plan he, Hermione, and Draco came up with. All he had to do is accio his broom and use it to outfly the dragon to steal the object. It was a simple plan, but that probably meant that something was bound to go wrong with it.
Papa and Sirius had visited him earlier. Papa had nearly suffocated him with a hug. It was somewhat comforting to know that there was someone as nervous, if not more, than him. Sirius had given him some clumsy words of encouragement. Papa looked like he was going to strangle the man when he jokingly told Harry to 'break a leg but for the love of god don't break your neck.' The joke had only succeeded in making Harry slightly more nervous.
A particularly loud applause from the audience let Harry know that Cedric had defeated his dragon. Harry took a deep breath and listened to McGonagall announce his time and introduce Harry as the last competitor. He stood up and walked to the tent's exit. He looked over at Euryale who rubbed her head against his chin comfortingly. He had tried to leave her with Severus but she refused to leave him. As much as Harry was worried for his safety, he felt better knowing that he wasn't going to be facing the dragon alone.
Harry looked ahead and pushed forward into the stadium. The audience was quiet. Harry couldn't help but feel like he was being led to a slaughter.
"There," Euryale said calmly pointing with the end of her tail at a golden egg that had been placed on top of a mound of boulders. Harry instinctively went for it but was quickly stopped by a heavy tail slamming down on the ground in front of him. Harry jumped into a narrow opening in the rocks to shield himself from the Horntail.
"Accio firebolt," he called with a flick of his wand. The dragon was clawing at the rocks trying to get to him. Harry scrambled further into the small trench. All he had to do now was stay alive until his broom showed up then fly like hell out of there. Simple enough. The dragon let out a frustrated roar as he dug its nails further into the rock. Harry could hear the majority of the crowd laughing at him. He knew he probably looked pathetic hiding in a corner but he couldn't find it in him to care at the moment. Especially since he knew that most of them would be doing the same thing.
"Stormy, you need to remain calm. We'll get through this," Euryale said as she poked her head out again. Harry took a deep, calming breath and nodded to her. "Now from what I understand we have a slight advantage, that Horntail has been placed under several different confundus charms so he's pretty confused right now."
"How do you know," Harry asked as he squeezed into a new trench that led away from the dragon.
"Well for one, he seems to think he laid that egg over there, which I'm sure I don't have to tell you is impossible for a male dragon," she commented. The Horntail seemed to notice their movement and went after them. Harry had to leap out of the way of its massive claws. A movement caught his eye and Harry nearly wept in relief when he saw his broomstick soaring straight for him. Harry quickly sent a blasting spell like the one he had used to defeat the basilisk years before and ran out of his stone sanctuary. He jumped onto the broom and was in the air in mere seconds.
"Hang on Euryale, I'm gonna try to lose it near the forbidden forest," Harry yelled over the rushing wind. Euryale didn't say anything back but instead quietly wrapped herself a little more securely around his neck and chest. The dragon was in the air behind him. It sent a fireball which Harry easily dodged thanks to his experience dodging bludgers. Harry swerved between towers and looked behind him at the dragon that was still on his tail.
"Watch out," Euyale hissed frantically. Harry snapped his attention back forward to see he was about to run into the side of another tower. He pulled up and was only barely able to avoid colliding with the wall. The dragon snapped its jaws up at him and Harry barrel rolled out of the way.
"I think I'm gonna be sick," Euryale mumbled.
"If you do aim for the Horntail it might slow him down," Harry yelled not really caring about his friends' plight at the moment. Harry flew over the bridge that was on the edge of the grounds when he heard the dragon roar. He turned to see it collide with the bridge and fall down to the river at the bottom of the cliff. Harry couldn't help but stop the broom. Euryale was breathing shakily and her muscles were beginning to relax around him. Harry was more than a little confused. He hadn't expected to lose the dragon before getting to the forbidden forest.
"What happened," he asked out loud. "Why didn't he fly over the bridge like I did?"
"The vision in his right eye was impaired," Euryale hissed. She seemed to notice the confusion in Harry's face and explained. "I told you I wasn't feeling well. Lucky for us it landed in a good spot."
Harry didn't know what to say.
"Are you feeling better now?"
"Just fly us back and get the egg. I want to sleep."
Harry didn't argue. The crowd erupted into cheers when he arrived back. He got a glimpse of Sirius and papa's faces. They looked like they were going to pass out from relief at seeing that he had made it back alright. Severus looked much the same. Harry landed gracefully in the center of the arena and picked up the golden egg. The cheering got even louder as he held it up for everyone to see.
After being led off of the field he was met with a crowd of slytherins and a few other people all wanting to congratulate him. Harry smiled and thanked them and waved at Hermione, Draco, and Ron who were trying to make their way through the crowd to him.
Harry tried not to cringe at the sound of Rita Skeeters' voice. The reporter was already getting on his nerves with all the things she had been writing about him. He had told her straight out that he had not put his name into the goblet but she still wrote an article about him making it sound like he had confessed to the deed.
"What are you going to do now that you have finished the first task," the annoying woman asked.
"Actually, I've got an very airsick snake to take care of," Harry answered before excusing himself.
Harry walked along the hallway and looked around at his fellow students. This was insane. He had faced You Know Who, dragons, basilisks, and blood sucking reporters but this is what unnerved him the most. The Yule ball. He didn't want to go. If it was just regular dancing and hanging out with his friends then he would have been fine but it seemed like everyone seemed to be expecting him to find a date. The dance was getting close and Harry still had no idea what he was going to do. Ron and Neville were also facing the same problem but Harry knew Neville's problem was different from his. Neville had talked to him about it earlier. He definitely wanted to go with someone, he refused to say who, but he just didn't have the courage to ask them.
"They'll probably just laugh at me," he had explained sadly. Harry tried to comfort him.
"How can you say that if you haven't even tried? Besides, why would you even like a girl who would do something like that?"
"You're right. They wouldn't do that but, I just can't do it Harry."
"You don't understand. They're so….. and I'm…. I'm just not good enough," Neville said dejectedly. Harry was about to tell his friend that he was wrong but Neville quickly excused himself and practically fled the library.
Even though Harry felt bad for him, he couldn't help but envy Neville. At least he knew what he wanted. Harry didn't have the first clue. He had noticed that he wasn't like the other boys in his year. They were all tripping over themselves to get the best looking girls to go with them to the ball but Harry couldn't have cared less.
"Harry, do you have a date yet," Draco asked. Harry rolled his eyes.
"No and I don't think I'm going to ever get one," he mumbled. Draco shrugged.
"I guess if you don't want one you don't have to but you realize you'll need a dance partner right?"
"It's tradition that the champions be the first to dance so you'll need someone for that. Didn't anyone tell you," Draco asked.
"No, well Snape did offer to give me extra help if I was nervous but I didn't know why," Harry recalled. He had to dance in front of everyone now?! He felt himself begin to sweat. He looked over at Hermione who was reading at the Gryffindor table while absently eating a piece of toast. He smiled as an idea came to him.
"Hermione can I ask a favor of you," he called as he jogged over to her.
"Of course Harry what do you need," Hermione asked putting the book and food down.
"I just found out that I need a partner for the first dance since I'm one of the champions and have to dance in front of everyone. Would you mind? I know you said you were going with someone but it'll only be for one dance then you can spend the rest of your time with what's-his-name," Harry explained in a rush. Hermione's face flushed a little and she looked uncomfortable.
"Well, Harry, I'm sorry but I can't."
"Why," Harry asked with a childish whine that he couldn't stop himself from using.
"Well I meant it to be a surprise but the person who asked me was…"
Hermione looked around to make sure no one was listening then leaned close to Harry.
Harry was surprised and disappointed at the same time. This meant that Hermione would be dancing with the famous quidditch player for the first dance. Harry let out a suffering sigh.
"As nice as that is I'm afraid I can't be happy for you. Now I'm still without a partner and I have no idea who to ask. You're the only girl friend that I have and I'm not about to ask Draco or Ron to dance."
Hermione laughed and patted Harry's shoulder.
"What about Ginny," she asked.
"I haven't thought of her. Do you think she would mind," Harry asked perking up a little. Ginny was always nice but he didn't want to bother her if she was planning on spending time with a boy she liked or something like that. Hermione gave Harry a weird look but then shook her head.
"No she would definitely not mind, but I suggest telling her that you're asking her as a friend so you can avoid any awkward misunderstandings," she advised. Harry nodded. He wouldn't want Ron thinking he was hitting on his little sister or for her to feel uncomfortable.
Severus walked idly through the halls. For the first time in a long time, he was bored. There were no potions that needed brewing, he had finished grading all his students papers, Lucius and Sirius were visiting with Remus today, and to top it all off it was the weekend so there were no classes. Severus let out a sigh. He didn't even feel like reading.
"Professor," a familiar voice shouted. Severus whipped around. Despite the welcome intrusion of his boredom he maintained his stern composure.
"Potter, there's no need to yell and stop running before I'm forced to take away points," he drawled.
"I'm sorry Professor but I've been looking all over for you. Why didn't you tell me that the champions were supposed to dance in front of everyone at the ball," Harry gasped after his run. Severus frowned.
"I was told that the Headmistress had informed all the champions herself. I suppose you must have slipped from her mind."
"I see. Well do you think you can help me practice dancing," Harry asked lowering his voice. He looked uncomfortable. "I… I've never actually danced with someone before."
"Of course. Follow me to my chambers. I'd take you to my office but there isn't enough room at the moment. Harry nodded and followed him.
As soon as they entered Severus' private quarters he levitated all the furnisher to the edges of the room then transfigured a vase into a record player.
"So, do you have a partner for the dance yet," Severus asked. Harry nodded.
"I asked Ginny to come with me as a friend. She seemed kind of excited so I guess she was worried because no one had asked her," Harry explained thoughtfully.
"Weasley? As a friend? Do you not have a girl you like," Severus asked.
"No, I honestly wouldn't have even gone if it wasn't for this one dance. I don't understand why the other boys are going so crazy over them."
"Maybe you're just a late bloomer," Severus guessed. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. I didn't get into the dating scene until I was sixteen but then again I had other issues."
"What were they," Harry asked. Severus quietly studied the boys curious face for a moment before answering. There was no point in hiding it.
"Well I didn't like girls at all. I found out I was gay during my first year and I was too scared to tell anyone besides Lucius. I was worried that I would be treated even worse than I already was," Severus explained. Harry looked thoughtful for a moment.
"I suppose I can understand that. I remember hearing that you were bullied a lot."
"Now, even though it isn't a big issue for me, please refrain from announcing my… preferences to your friends or other classmates."
"Of course. You can trust me," Harry said brightly. Severus allowed a small smile to tug at his lips. He didn't know what it was, but something about Harry made him do that a lot.
"Now, since it's only one week to the ball I believe it's best to just teach you how to lead," Severus decided.
Severus watched as Harry nervously run his hand through his hair. He did this a lot when he was trying to find the right words to say to someone.
"Will I be practicing with you? I don't really mind that but, you're a bit tall to be Ginny," Harry explained. Severus chuckled. Yes, he was indeed too tall to stand in for Ms. Weasley but they didn't have much time to find someone else. He would just have to glamour himself to look shorter. Severus pulled out his wand and mumbled the spell. Harry's eyes grew wide as he began to shrink. When he was done he put his wand back in his robes.
"Amazing," Harry gushed. "You look so young."
Severus frowned. Young? He looked into a nearby mirror. He gaped as his thirteen year old self stared back at him. He hadn't meant to do that. He knew he was bad at charms but he didn't think he would mess up a glamour that much. Severus let out an exasperated sigh. Hopefully he would go back to looking normal when he removed the glamour.
"Yes this is how I looked when I was Ms. Weasleys age. This should make practicing a lot easier than trying to lead an old man almost a foot taller than you."
"You're not old. At least you don't look it," Harry said still looking him over. Severus was getting a little uncomfortable with the attention.
"It's nice of you to say that but you don't need to flatter me. Now enough of that, let's start with how you hold your partner," Severus said dismissing the compliment. Harry looked like he wanted to say something but remained silent as Severus started to give directions.
Harry only needed three two hour lessons to learn and get comfortable with the dance. Severus assured him that he performed it well enough to not embarrass himself in front of the whole school. Harry loved dancing with Severus and was a little sad at the end of the second lesson. It had been a lot more fun than he expected and Harry hoped dancing with Ginny would be the same.
Harry stood with Ron and Draco as they waited for their dates. Ron had asked a random girl out of desperation to not be the only Gryffindor without a date. He looked utterly miserable in his old ratty dress robes that had apparently belonged to his great aunt. Draco and Harry on the other hand looked very nice in the suits that papa had ordered for them. Draco had also asked a girl to go with him as a friend. Harry had never met her but according to Hermione she was a little odd. Harry turned to the stairway when he heard Ginny calling his name. Her dress was a very light pink and a white color. It also had a sash that was a darker shade of pink. It was plain but it seemed to suit her fine. She had her hair down but she had a hair clip with a pretty pink flower on it. Harry smiled at her as she walked toward him.
"You look nice," he said politely. Ginny lowered her head.
"Really? You like it?"
Harry nodded and Ginny thanked him before telling him how handsome he looked in his own dress robes. Harry smiled and thanked her back. It looked like this dance wouldn't be boring and awkward after all.
A lot of people were surprised when Hermione showed up with Krum. She looked very beautiful in her dress and she smiled the whole time. Harry was happy to see his friend having such a good time. Ron seemed less than pleased but Harry didn't have time to ask about it since the first dance was going to be starting soon. Harry and Ginny rushed to their places. Harry noticed papa and Sirius smiling at him from the corner of the room and he gave them a small music was a little different than what he had practiced with but it was still fine. Ginny linked her arm with his and gave him a gentle smile. Harry smiled back and began to walk out onto the dance floor. He was a lot less nervous than he thought he was going to be. Since he was so focused on not messing up he had forgotten about everyone who was watching. Ginny moved flawlessly as they danced. She had always been somewhat graceful. Harry couldn't help but wonder why no guy had asked her to the dance. Harry felt comfortable dancing with her but not as much as when he was dancing with Severus and for some reason it wasn't as fun either. It must have been because this situation was much more formal.
Soon everyone was dancing and Harry was able to guide Ginny over to the side of the great hall and off the dance floor. He sighed as all the tension from the last week washed off of him. Now he could relax and focus on the second task of the tournament.
"What's the matter Harry? You don't want to dance anymore," Ginny asked sounding disappointed. 'She must enjoy dancing,' Harry thought to himself.
"Sorry Ginny. Just let me have a quick drink of punch first," Harry said walking over to the small fountain in the corner of the great hall that was spouting the fruity drink.
"Isn't it a little early for punch," Ginny asked. Harry shrugged and took a cup from a nearby table. Was there a rule about when you could drink at a ball? Severus didn't mention it.
"You have to drink punch at the beginning of the dance before nargles spike it," a gentle voice advised. Harry looked up at the girl who was waiting patiently to get her own cup of punch. She had blonde curly hair that was pulled up into a cute bun and she wore blue dress that seemed to have small plastic bubbles adorning it. It was odd but slightly interesting. Harry politely moved out of the girls way so she could get to the punch fountain.
"What are nargles?"
"Hey Harry," Draco greeted as he walked up to them. "I see you met my friend Luna."
"Luna's your date," Ginny asked incredulously. "I would have asked someone more…. Slytherin."
"I wouldn't say that I'm his date," Luna explained before Draco could say anything. "I am merely accompanying him as a friend and dance partner much like yourself and Harry."
Ginny's body stiffened slightly and Luna gave her a carefree smile before taking a sip of her drink. Harry had to agree with Hermione that Luna was odd but he understood why Draco would find her interesting.
After finishing his drink Harry and Ginny returned to the dance floor where the music had gotten much faster and more fun to dance to. Ginny seemed slightly absent minded but something told Harry that he shouldn't mention it. Hermione and Krum also danced with them for a bit. Harry didn't see Neville anywhere and assumed that the boy had chickened out on asking his crush to the dance and decided not to come at all.
It felt like an hour before Harry had to sit down and rest. His feet were killing him. He groaned and looked over at Ron who hadn't really danced and whose partner had long since left him. He looked like he was in a particularly foul mood so Harry decided not to talk to him. It was best to avoid any and all conversation with the red head when he was like this. Maybe Hermione could talk to him.
Harry sighed and leaned back. He looked around the great hall at all the people who were enjoying themselves and noticed that papa and Sirius weren't there. Harry hadn't really seen them since the ball started. Papa had been excited about seeing Harry dance but had promised not to make a scene by taking pictures. After all, it would look bad for the great Lord Malfoy to act like a mother gushing over her son on his first date. Harry stood up and exited the hall. Ginny was currently talking with her Gryffindor friends so she wouldn't miss him. Harry almost immediately ran into Draco on his way out.
"Hey where are you going," he asked.
"I haven't seen Sirius or Lucius since the beginning of the dance and I thought I should say hi," Harry explained.
"I think I just saw them heading outside. They probably went to get fresh air."
"I guess I'll come with you but only for a little bit," Draco sighed as he followed Harry out.
The courtyard wasn't lit but Harry could see two figures standing by a column in the moon light. Harry and Draco quietly approached the parental figures who were speaking in hushed voices. Draco stopped Harry before he got too close to them and pulled him into the shadows. Harry gave his brother a confused look and Draco answered with a signal for Harry to listen. Harry felt guilty for spying but he had to admit that he was curious about what the two men were talking about. Harry strained and began to make out what was being said.
"I'm sorry I know I'm not making any sense," Sirius apologized running his hand through his hair.
"That's alright. Just speak slowly and tell me what you want," papa said gently. Sirius shifted on his feet.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking, about that one night," Sirius started.
"I thought we agreed we would forget it," papa replied sternly. Harry wasn't sure what they were talking about but it sounded serious.
"I don't want to forget about it," Sirius said raising his voice before immediately lowering it back down. "I can't forget. Not even if I wanted to. Lucius, I think I like you."
Sirius bowed his head and papa gave him a sad look. Harry heard Draco give a quiet gasp beside him.
"Sirius, I told you I don't want that kind of relationship. It would be too painful for me."
"I don't mean like that," Sirius interrupted. "I don't want you as a sex friend or some drunken one night stand. I mean, yeah the sex was good, the best I've ever had actually, but that's not the only reason why I like you."
Harry couldn't believe what he was hearing. He knew papa was gay but had no idea his godfather was as well. He grabbed Draco's hand and squeezed it in anticipation of what his god father would say next. Sirius grabbed papa's hand and pulled it to his lips before giving it a gentle kiss. The blonde's eyes were impossibly wide.
"You are the most self-sacrificing person I have ever met. You would do anything to protect your family, even those of us who aren't related by blood. Even when you hide yourself under that cold mask you still find ways to help those around you. You never back down from a challenge and if a problem arises that is impossible to fix, you will still run yourself raged trying to find a solution."
Sirius let go of the blondes hand and cupped his face.
"I even think it's adorable how grumpy you are in the mornings before your meetings," he grinned. Papa was staring in shock at the other man. Harry was getting a little impatient for him to say something. When he did, it was only the animagus' name before he was cut off by his godfather's lips being pressed against his own. Harry watched in amazement as the two men shared a long kiss before separating. The kiss had been sweet and almost loving. It was amazing how natural it looked. It was a good minute before Sirius finally broke the silence.
"So what I guess I'm asking is…would you like to give me a chance to make this work? To have a real relationship with you?"
"How could I possibly say no after that," Papa answered.
Both men stiffened and spun around to face the two boys. Harry turned to Draco who had his hand over his mouth but it was too late. They had been caught.
"Crap," Draco cursed before grabbing Harry by the arm and forcing him to run with him back into the castle before they could be scolded for spying. Harry looked back for one last look. Papa's face was as red as Ron's hair and Sirius had the biggest grin Harry had ever seen on his face.
AN: No snakes or dragons were harmed in the making of this chapter.